In attendance were Joe Koenig Jr., president of Trim-Tex Inc., and Geno Scali, four-time national event winner and current number-one points leader in the NHRA Pro Stock Bike Class. They were in the area to attend the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove, Pa., that weekend (which eventually got rained out).
I had never met Joe before and when we were introduced, I was impressed. There was no ego, and during discussions of other products, he had nothing but compliments and good things to say about "the other guys." If anyone had cause to pound his chest it would have to be Joe.
Along with having a successful business, he gets to practice his hobby by sponsoring a race team along with Sears Craftsman. Joe retired from competitive riding in 2002 after placing second in the AMA/Prostar Championship Points, and still holds the world record for the Pro Stock Bike Class with an elapsed time of 7.029 at 193.35 MPH set at Virginia Motor sports Park, in May 2002. Nice guy and cajahones of steel.
Speed teamThe Team Trim-Tex crew rolled into TrevDan's parking lot with a most impressive rig decked out with their new graphics. Geno and Joe signed autographs and gave out T-shirts and free goodies to all in attendance. Lucky winner Darrel Asbury, finishing foreman for Benner & White construction of Harleysville, Pa., received two weekend passes to the race, along with an official Team Trim-Tex crew uniform shirt and hat. They also brought along samples of Mud-Max-a mud additive touted as a way to increase bond ability and crack resistance, and its version of a sponge sander. Instead of having to cut the edges off a sanding block to keep them from scratching up finish work, these blocks are made with rounded edges. Nice Job! Obviously, Joe listens to his customers' needs.
The big thrill for more than a thousand kids-and a few hundred big kids-the following Friday and Saturday was the chance to sit on an actual drag bike. Team Trim-Tex does something no other team does by setting up this bike in its pit area at every race, giving kids and adults alike the unique opportunity to get their picture taken while straddling a bike capable of going 200 mph. Mark Stone, official weekend team assistant and PR man, was overheard telling a reluctant teen, "You might as well take advantage of this chance-John Force isn't going to let you sit in his Funny Car."
Fun and speedThanks to team sponsor Sears Craftsman, a dozen students from the Urban Youth Racing School, of Philadelphia, got to spend the day at the races where they got to participate in a behind-the-scenes look at the motorsports industry.
According to the press release, "The Urban Youth Racing School is a non-profit organization committed to the education, training and preparation of today's urban youths through exposure to the automotive and motorsports industry." In 2002, 78 urban boys and girls successfully completed the 10-week motorsports orientation and training programs. These lucky students, who were aged 12 to16, spent a busy day with professional drivers including Geno, learning about race preparation, and driving techniques. Time spent with NHRA officials aided them in understanding what it took to operate an event from the tree to the tower. They also got to see television being made at the ESPN broadcast facilities.
"Craftsman, as sponsor of the annual NHRA Craftsman scholarships and official partner of NHRA, believes in playing an active role in building dreams for young people, and introducing them to motorsports through the Urban Youth Racing School is a perfect way to do so," says Touré Claiborne, Sears' motorsports marketing manager. "NHRA and all the racers have been instrumental in helping us do jus that. We at Sears and Craftsman see this as the right thing to do to continue to build diversity in motorsports."
I'd like to thank Mark for inviting me to share in the festivities. How about next year you score me a pass for the entire weekend? To Team Trim-Tex, thanks for giving something exciting back to the fans.
Remember: Life's too short not to go to the races and sit on a rocket just once.